November 15, 2002

Development VP leaves for Northwestern

In the midst of a $2 billion fundraising campaign, Sarah Pearson, Associate VicePresident of Development & Alumni Relations, announced Monday that she would leave the University of Chicago to become Northwestern University's new Vice President of University Development, effective January 13, 2003. Pearson is currently the campaign director to the Chicago Initiative.

According to Randy Holgate, Vice President of Development & Alumni Relations for the University, there are several reasons that Pearson chose to leave Chicago for Northwestern. "Number 1: It's a vice president position, so it's a top position in fundraising. Number 2: Northwestern is a top tier school. And, Number 3: Northwestern is in her hometown, Evanston," Holgate said.

Northwestern began its search for a Vice President of Development when Ronald Vanden Dorpel left to take a position with Brown University in June, said Northwestern president Henry Bienen, who explained that he considered candidates from both inside and outside of Northwestern University.

"Ms. Pearson made an immediate and positive impression with her passion for her work; her experience, not just at U of C but also at Harvard and Cornell; and her clearly developed organizational skills," Bienen said.

He noted that Northwestern's campaign, which is presently at $1.3 billion, may reach its goal by the time Pearson arrives.

Pearson's departure comes toward the beginning of Chicago's five-year Chicago Initiative, a campaign to raise $2 billion by 2006. The money raised during the campaign will be directed towards improving and adding to the present faculty, expanding student aid, strengthening science and research, and completing the campus Master Plan.

The Initiative has already raised $771 million and expects to continue garnering strong support.

The University Development & Alumni Relations office is currently searching for someone to fill Pearson's position. "Obviously people who know the institution like alumni or staff have a leg up, but we're really looking for the best and most qualified people," Holgate said.

"You have to be sensitive to the fact that really the best people who work in fundraising are highly sought after by many institutions, and this type of search has to be handled with a lot of discretion," Holgate said.

When one is trying to raise $2 billion, however, time is of the essence. "My objective is to fill the position as quickly as possible. We want to maintain momentum for the campaign," he added, saying that he would not disclose any further details at this time about the search effort to fill Pearson's position.

Pearson came to the University in 1996 with fundraising experience from both Cornell and Harvard. Initially hired as the director of major gifts, Pearson was promoted twice during her six years at Chicago.

"I have been fortunate to have had some wonderful experiences most recently at the University of Chicago," Pearson said. "I am grateful to President Don Michael Randel, the board of trustees, Vice President Randy Holgate and many colleagues for the opportunities they have offered me these past six years," she said.

In her new position at Northwestern, Pearson will direct Campaign Northwestern, which seeks to raise $1.4 billion by August 31, 2003.

"I look forward to the new challenges that lie ahead in leading Northwestern's development efforts," she added.